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We live in an era where big business may begin to take a backseat to local enterprise, and that is certainly the case wherever farmer’s markets have arisen, bringing fresh, locally-grown produce to the tables of appreciative cooks. A “locavore” is someone who appreciates and purchases such food. It was the “word of the year” in 2007, yet is still being discovered today. The team of senior college public relations majors who won the 17th Ebeling PR-ize for cause-related communications yesterday at Bradley University beat six other excellent teams to win the award, presented at the Mark Twain hotel near Peoria’s famous waterfront, soon to become the home of the #100 million new Peoria Riverfront Museum and the $37 million Catepillar visitor’s center. The PR-ize program, created by Bradley alumni Chuck Ebeling, challenges student teams to bring together all of the PR skills they have learned in a real, pro-bono joint project for the benefit of a local for-profit and a not-for-profit organization, demonstrating that it is possible to do well and do good in our modern society. The student work is on a par with that of a professional public relations agency or department.
A creative, six-person student communications campaign to stimulate patronage of local businesses was the winner last night of the 7th annual Ebeling PR-ize for excellence at Loyola University Chicago. Titled, “Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, Buy Local,” the campaign supported small neighborhood businesses. The online program informed the public across Chicago about values at local shops by encouraging people to make a pledge to spend at least $100 with local businesses over the holiday shopping period. 500 people took the pledge, and ABC-TV news covered the event, which included a street rally handing out fliers that looked like $100 bills. The award was made at a gala reception students, faculty and guests in the Advertising and Public Relations curriculum at Loyola’s Water Tower downtown campus.
I established this prize program to recognize the high level, pro bono professional communications work that is being done by student teams for the benefit of local businesses and not-for-profit organizations through the outstanding capstone courses in public relations at Loyola and Bradley.
With just over 3% women represented in the Fortune 500 CEO ranks, even in 2011, the issue of the “glass ceiling” and the need for female empowerment remains as strong as ever. This fall, a Bradley University public relations student team calling itself Inner Voice Public Relations took on the challenge of bringing new resources and focus to the issue, bringing together a local counseling company and girls of Peoria Heights High School in a dynamic training program they created, they named “Dare to Be.”
The pro-bono “Dare to Be” team became the 16th group of award recipients of the Ebeling PR-ize for cause-related communications at Bradley. The winning team consisted of Jamie Herring of Metamora, IL , Emily Bowe of Cicero, New York, and intriguingly, a male member, Shane Snyder of Edwards, IL. All were graduating seniors in the capstone PR program directed by Dr. Ron Koperski of Bradley’s Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts. The winning team was feted at an awards luncheon hosted by the program creator/sponsor, Charles Ebeling, a 1966 Bradley journalism grad, and the winners each received a letter of commendation and a cash prize. Each semester at Bradley, student “agencies” select a local business and a local not-for-profit and team them in a professional cause-related communications program they create and implement, seeking real, measurable public relations results.
Ebeling supports a similar Ebeling PR-ize program recognizing achievement in cause-related communications he created at Loyola University Chicago.
On Friday the 14th, the 13th Ebeling PR-ize winning student team at Bradley University in Peoria, Il was announced. The winning campaign is called Shape Up the Earth, and is a recycling awareness campaign involving the Greater Peoria YMCA and Eagle Enterprises Recycling, Inc.
Just saw Demi Moore pitch Pepsi’s newly announced http://www.refresheverything.com campaign on Morning Joe (CNBC). What a great idea! Rather than run Super Bowl ads (good positioning), Pepsi is putting their money into this campaign, engaging young people on Facebook and Twitter (as well as those of us who think young) to vote for charity ideas submitted to Pepsi and they in turn will fund the most popular ideas. Check out their website, which is excellent. Andy Serwer, editor of Fortune Magazine, affirmed on today’s program that young people respond to cause marketing.
I’ve long been an advocate of cause-related marketing and public relations as an important way companies can give back to the community and substantively help build and support good reputation. I have an awards program, called the Ebeling PR-ize, at Bradley U and Loyola U. Chicago that reward young communicators for creativity and excellence in cause-related communications. I learned that cause communications can work at McDonald’s, where I helped build the Ronald McDonald House program, Ronald McDonald House Charities, McDonald’s Cares, McHappy Day and other programs that make friends while giving back, in the spirit inspired by McDonald’s Corporation founder Ray Kroc and Al Golin, pioneering head of McDonald’s long-time PR agency, where the McDonald’s Trust Bank concept originated.